Volunteering is a hugely rewarding experience which benefits both the volunteer and the community.
Giving to others can help your mental and emotional wellbeing, help you to develop relationships, and bring joy and fulfilment to a busy life; while allowing you to connect to your local community.
Taking on a volunteer placement – whether short term or long term – can provide a great escape from your daily routine. It can also provide you with a motivating hobby, and the satisfaction that you’re ‘giving back’ to those that need it.
However, volunteering can be so much more than a fun and fulfilling way to spend your time. Volunteering can also help advance your career. But how?
If you’re just starting out and struggling to find work, or if you’re looking to change career, volunteering can help you get experience in your career of interest. It will also help you build some valuable contacts who might be able to make you aware of job opportunities or internships that are available or upcoming. And if you have experience at that organisation, you’ll have a much greater chance of success if opportunities do come up.
Through volunteering you can learn and develop important, transferable work skills. For example: organisation, leadership, teamwork, communication skills, problem-solving and task management. You’ll learn to work as a team, in different environments and with different types of individuals.
Volunteering can also help you build upon skills you already have and use them to fill skills gaps in the organisation you’re volunteering at. For example, someone with a knowledge or experience of marketing might help an organisation with its promotion. This would also build out that individual’s own portfolio of work.
Volunteer work may be unpaid, but there are also often lots of opportunities to train whilst volunteering; helping to develop your skills even further.
Volunteering gives you the opportunity to build experience in an area you’re interested in, at no risk to you or the company you’re volunteering at. If you’re thinking about a career change, you can try out a new career without making a long-term commitment. If it’s experience that you need to build out your CV, then volunteering provides a fantastic opportunity to do so. So, for example, if you’re interested in animal care, you could volunteer at a local animal shelter.
The right volunteering opportunity can give you a renewed passion, inspiration and motivation, which will benefit your personal and professional life.
Think about your goals. How much time can you give, and what do you want to achieve? What would you enjoy doing? For example – do you want to build experience in a certain field? Improve your local community? Link a volunteering experience with your interests or hobbies? The opportunities that match both your goals and your interests will give you the most beneficial and rewarding experience.
There are many volunteer opportunities available. Once you’ve explored what type of experience you want, and in what sort of field, then you can narrow your search.
The following sites are a great place to start. Simply input your postcode to access a range of volunteering opportunities available in your local area.
You can also search for voluntary work by location on recruitment sites such as:
Many organisations will directly recruit volunteers; and this isn’t just limited to charities. For example:
East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust recruits a number of volunteers for administration, clinical and non-clinical roles.
There are also a number of volunteer roles available in the Police service.
Kent County Council promotes a variety of opportunities to volunteer with children, young people and families
Volunteering abroad enables you to reap all of the benefits of volunteering locally, whilst helping you to experience another culture, and potentially train linguistically and culturally for future jobs.
There are many part time volunteering opportunities available, and you don’t have to volunteer full-time for the experience to make a difference. Even spending a couple of hours a week can give you all of the benefits you need to develop a CV and breadth of experience to help you stand out from the crowd.
When it comes to volunteering, passion and positivity are the only requirements you need for success. The most valuable assets you can bring to any volunteer opportunity are a positive, ‘can do’ attitude, empathy, and the willingness to work hard. And in return, you’ll receive a wealth of experience, build networks, achieve a sense of fulfilment, and improve your chances of getting the job that you want – all whilst giving back to your local community.
If you need support with finding a volunteering opportunity, or you want advice on careers and work in general, the National Careers Service provides free careers information, advice and guidance to anyone aged 13+.
The service is completely free of charge and available online, over the phone and face-to-face. A qualified careers adviser will be able to support you with thinking through your volunteering options and can also help you explore the careers available to you, identify training courses and learning opportunities to help you progress; guide you in effective job searching; and work on interview techniques.
“In terms of employability in the open market, volunteering is a great way to help increase this and gain access to opening more doors and opportunities. As organisations look more at the importance of work culture and social purpose there is a great win here for all concerned supporting volunteering routes”
Dominic Hilleard – Director Rethink Group, Ethical Search & Talent Leadership
“Volunteering is a fantastic way to help others whilst also learning about yourself and what most inspires you. Working in the charitable sector and seeing its impact had given me a personal goal to be a trustee by the time I was 30. I chose CXK because of the amazing services they provide to those who need a helping hand. The inspiring people I have met, the knowledge I have gained and the insight I now have in to my own skills would make me recommend this experience in a heartbeat. Employers are recognising the value of volunteering for both their staff and their businesses and making it easier for employees to dedicate their time outside the workplace. So I would say if you are thinking about it – do it!”
Charlotte Walshe – Head of Charity Partnerships, In Kind Direct